A chaplet with a crucifix fashioned on black cord. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)
The chaplet consists of a cross on a cord with seven sets of three knots each that is worn around the neck over one's clothing, visible for all of Lent.
Starting Ash Wednesday, parishioners wear the cross and pray seven Our Fathers, Hail Marys, and Glory Bes everyday for a specific member of the parish or community. On Good Friday, that cross is then given to that person.
During his time as a missionary in Venezuela, Father Statz noted that there was need for a visible sign of the cross.
"There was an evangelical church on almost every street corner," the Minnesota priest said in a telephone interview with Catholic News Service. He decided that a tradition where the cross could be seen by all would be good for both the faith of his parishioners and it would help to evangelize the barrios where he ministered.
The opportunity afforded by Ash Wednesday to visibly display the cross gave him the idea for what would later become the Lenten chaplet. "It's a good way to evangelize our own people and others in the barrios," he said. He views it a powerful tool in bringing the word of God to everyone.
Through the cross, "people are brought into the church," said Father Statz.
The Venezuelans assembled rosary-type crosses out of "wood and leaves" in such a manner that they could be worn for the whole of Lent. "The immediate response was very positive," the priest said.
After returning to the United States, Father Statz introduced the tradition to his own parish, Our Lady of the Angels in Sauk Centre, Minn. His parishioners were receptive to the practice and immediately adopted the idea. Since its introduction almost10 years ago, the local youth groups also have incorporated it into their fundraisers.
"We've done it since it started," said one parishioner, Maria Minette. "I like it a lot because it helps to focus on others during Lent."
"Sometimes we do it as a family and sometimes we do it individually," she said. Commenting on the effectiveness and the power of the cross, she added, "It's especially powerful for teens, for younger adults -- visually wearing the cross for the days of Lent and having people ask about it gives them a chance to talk about their faith."
The youth groups in the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minn., make the chaplets. "Each year we get a new crucifix and this year we had them blessed by (Pope) Benedict XVI," Father Statz said.
This tradition is used especially for the confirmation students, but the entire congregation is invited to participate. And the practice has started to spread to other churches in the area, including St. Paul's Parish, also in Sauk Centre.
"Sacramentals assist the sacraments -- they go with the liturgy and extend it. Some other parishes have picked up on it and benefited," Father Statz said.
The parishioners have been instrumental in the spreading of the tradition and in participating in the Lenten devotion. "I actually would like to see it spread farther," said Minette.
“The presence of Burkinabé mercenaries in Ouattara's camp has not yet been verified by independent sources, but this accusation by Gbagbo is evidence of the break in relations between Gbagbo and the President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré,” says the Fides source, who for security reasons prefers to remain anonymous. “The latter, having sponsored the agreements in Ouagadougou in 2007, was involved in the round of negotiations sponsored by the African Union to resolve the Ivorian crisis, triggered by Gbagbo's refusal to recognise Ouattara's victory in the second round of presidential elections in November 2010. As we all recall, in late February a delegation from the African Union went to Abidjan to meet with the protagonists in the crisis. Blaise Compaoré, who was part of the group of mediators, decided at the last minute not to travel to Côte d'Ivoire, officially for security reasons,” continues our source.
The situation is alarming, because while the rebels seem to advance closer to Ouattara to take over the district of Cocody, which houses many important buildings, Gbagbo is deploying militia groups to create roadblocks in the quarters of his supporters. According to UNOCI sources, there are defections in the security forces, who until now had remained loyal to Gbagbo, and whose morale is low because wages have not been paid. According to UNOCI, at least 100 soldiers have deserted and have become refugees in Liberia.
Pakistani Christians say that a Catholic businessman serving a life imprisonment for blasphemy was tortured and murdered and did not die of a heart attack as stated in a medical report.
The man was found dead in his prison cell.
“Qamar David might have fallen prey to an active hate campaign going on in the country on this issue by extremist groups,” the Catholic Bishops’ National Commission for Justice and Peace NCJP suggested in an update was circulated by email on March 15 the day David, 55, died in “mysterious circumstances” in a jail in Karachi.
David, a wealthy businessman, was arrested in 2006 for being in possession of a SIM phone used for sending derogatory messages insulting the Prophet Mohammad. Though another Muslim co-accused was acquitted for lack of evidence, the Catholic was given life imprisonment and fined 101,000 rupees (US$ 1,183) in 2010 under the blasphemy laws.
Clergy, Church activists and the family of the victim have slammed the initial findings of the doctors.
Reports said Qamar David’s lawyer Pervez Chaudhry maintained that the allegations were spurious, triggered by a business rivalry, and that the conviction was the result of pressure from local religious clerics and their supporters.
Auxiliary Bishop Sebastian Shah of Lahore presided over the funeral on March 17 at St. Joseph Church in Lahore, David’s native city. Women wailed as the coffin was placed in front of the altar. The mass remained tense as relatives scuffled with Catholic media and NCJP workers documenting the funeral.
Vicar General Father Andrew Nisari, in his address, asked congregation of more than 200 to be undeterred in their faith. “Another historic chapter has been added in our struggle against the fatal logic (referring to blasphemy laws). The persecution and discrimination, especially in finding jobs”, has frustrated our youth”, he pointed.
The incident is the latest in a series of blasphemy-related killings. Prayers are still being held around the country for Shahbaz Bhatti, the federal cabinet minister assassinated earlier this month for trying to amend the blasphemy laws.
The blasphemy laws give life imprisonment and death penalty to convicts of insulting to the Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad respectively. Church groups, who condemned these legislations for decades, have now adopted a low profile in wake of recent killings.
VETERAN PRIEST DIES
15 March 2011
Archdiocese of Canberra report: Fr Vince Pierse, who served in archdiocesan parishes for more than 45 years, has died. He was 91. Fr Pierse was living in retirement at Mount St Joseph’s Nursing Home, Young.
He served in the parishes of Goulburn, Young, Ardlethan, Gundagai, Bega, West Wyalong, Crookwell, North Goulburn, Binalong, Braidwood, Adelong, Bombala, Adaminaby and O’Connor between 1949 until his retirement in 1994. He is survived by his sister Vonnie and his brother Bill and their extended families.
A concelebrated Requiem Mass for the repose of his soul will be held at 11.30am on Friday, 18 March, at St Patrick’s Church, Gundagai.
SPOUSE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY AND FOSTER FATHER OF JESUS
Feast: March 19